Monday, April 20, 2009

Google Chrome having trouble loading Bloomberg web site

All of a sudden today I was unable to properly view the Bloomberg web site in Google Chrome, but it would display properly in Microsoft Internet Explorer. I hit reload a few times and closed and restarted the browser, but nothing worked.

Then I remembered that I had seen this problem before and "fixed" it by disabling Chrome's DNS pre-fetching. I had disabled that feature quite some time ago, so I was baffled as to what was wrong now.

Just to be sure, I went into the "Under the Hood" tab of Google Chrome Options and sure enough the DNS pre-fetching feature was once again enabled! I turned it off (again!) and now the Bloomberg web site works fine.

I know that I did not turn that feature back on, so maybe an automated update automatically turned it back on as a "service" to us "dumb" users. Maybe Google thought that they had fixed the problem and forced the feature back on. Maybe. Who knows.

I am running Chrome version on Windows XP SP3.

-- Jack Krupansky

Software agents for virtual browsing and virtual presence

With so many places to go and so many things to see and do on the Web, it is getting almost impossible to keep up with the proliferation of interesting information out there. We need some help. A hefty productivity boost is simply not good enough. We need a lot of help. Browser add-ons, better search engines, and filtering tools are simply not enough. Unfortunately, the next few years holds more of the same.

But, longer term we should finally start to see credible advances in software agent technology which help to extend our own minds so that we can engage in virtual browsing and have a virtual presence on the Web so that we can effectively reach and touch a far broader, deeper, and richer lode of information than we can with personal browsing and our personal presence.

Twitter asks us what we are doing right now, but our online activity and presence with the aid of software agents will be a thousand or ten thousand or even a million or ten million times greater than we can personally achieve today. What are each of us interested in? How about everything?! Why not?

The gradual evolution of the W3C conception of the Semantic Web will eventually reach a critical mass where even relatively dumb software agents can finally appear to behave in a relatively intelligent manner that begins to approximate our own personal activity and personal presence on the Web.

It may take another five to ten years, but the long march in that direction is well underway.

The biggest obstacle right now is not the intelligence of an individual software agent per se, but the need to encode a rich enough density of information in the Semantic Web so that we can realistically develop intelligent software agents that can work with that data. We will also need an infrastructure that mediates between the actual data and the agents.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Google Chrome issue: unable to view DOJ torture memos

I discovered that I cannot use Google Chrome to view the DOJ "torture" memos that were released a few days ago. I get a "109" error for each of them and then the browser tab is simply an empty white document and inactive. But... I can view them successfully in Microsoft Internet Explorer 7, so there is no problem with the PDF viewer per se. This suggests that Google has some issue with how they integrated the Adobe PDF reader/viewer.

The exact error message:

Adobe Reader

There was an error processing a page. There was a problem reading this document (109).

I am using Google Chrome version, running under Windows XP SP3 on a Toshiba notebook PC.

Now, (unfortunately) back to IE. Talk about torture!

-- Jack Krupansky

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I wasn't blown away by Joel Comm's Twitter Power book

I was doing my usual Sunday afternoon browsing of the "New Arrivals" table at Barnes & Noble near Lincoln Center here in New York City and spent a few minutes leafing though Twitter Power: How to Dominate Your Market One Tweet at a Time by Joel Comm "with" Ken Burge. Alas, although I am by no means an expert in Twitter (only 425 "tweet" updates to date), I did not notice anything that I did not already know. Maybe if I read the book carefully I would stumble upon a few tips that would be of value to me, but I don't have the patience to read books that carefully these days.

My attitude is that if page one does not blow me away, then the book is not for me. I also scan the table of contents and skip to at least half a dozen or more random pages to see if anything does leap out at me. After all of that, either the book made an impression or not. For me, Twitter Power did not. I am willing to concede that it may be a great intro for the uninformed, but for a book with "Power" in the title, I expect more, much more.

As far as giving the insight to "dominate your market", I would have to classify myself as a skeptic on that score.

If any readers out that did glean valuable insight from the book, please let me know what I may have missed!

My apologies for not providing a better summary of the book, but by all means browse through it and decide for yourself whether it offers you any advice of value.

Note: I do get a tiny commission from Amazon if you buy a book after clicking on the cover images or link above that redirect to Amazon. Thanks!

-- Jack Krupansky

Monday, April 13, 2009

Using Data Unions as repositories of personal data

In order to facilitate the development of open garden social networks it is necessary to have a safe place for consumers to place their personal data, not just where it can be stored and accessed, but also to control access and to provide a reliable digital identity. Many years ago I thought up a scheme I called a data union, kind of a cross between a data bank and a credit union, which would provide exactly that form of reliable and safe storage for a consumer's personal data. I finally wrote up a rough, summary description back in 2005, but I have not yet pursued the concept any further.

The intention is not so much to store a consumer's bulk data such as documents, photos, media, etc., but simply to store and control the attribute information that might be needed for online transactions and promotion of products and services, such as name, address, phone numbers, social security number, age and birth date, gender, interests, and whatever. The intention was to give the consumer great control over exactly what personal information is available to whomever.

It would be a natural extension to have a data union safety deposit box, which would be a modest amount of digital storage, maybe in the megabytes or a "few" gigabytes, sufficient for documents, valuable images, etc., but not intended for full-blown personal storage.

A data union would be an ideal repository for online digital identity credentials, or at least as a digital identity validation service. For example, the consumer could approve an entity with which they are willing to transact and then the consumer could provide a transaction code to that entity which the data union could verify.

A data union would enable the consumer to be as open and visible and transparent or as closed and hidden and secretive as they wish.

-- Jack Krupansky

Spam slowing down again

I am noticing that my spam traffic has slowed down, again. I have my email accounts set to simply tag all spam and then I manually delete it. I wonder if "the authorities" are being increasingly successful at cracking down on spammers, or whether the economy is getting them down, or whether they realize that I am a useless target for their pleas for clicks. Whatever. Or maybe they just took off the Easter weekend. In any case, I am enjoying the sight of a relatively clean email in-box in the morning. I had only 7 spam email messages from 11:00 p.m. until 8:00 a.m. That is a very poor showing by the spammers.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Open garden social networking vs. walled gardens

I am truly tired of social networking sites that are walled gardens, requiring some form of registration and holding my personal data hostage by maintaining it behind the walls of the "walled garden." What is the alternative? Is there an alternative? No, there is no alternative currently, but in the longer term we can hope that developers and entrepreneurs will recognize that open garden networks have distinct advantages over walled gardens.

The esence of an open garden social network is that users maintain their data wherever they want as long as it can be crawled by whatever sites wish to aggregate that data. Since the data is maintained publicly, it can easily be shared by more than one social networking aggregator.

The immediate technical obstacles are that: 1) the average consumer has no obvious public location to store their data and 2) we do not have a technology and public infrastructure in place for consumers to "sign" their personal data to associate it with their digital identity.

Who knows, maybe open garden social networking will take off in another five or ten years.

One of the key benefits of open garden personal data is that it will open up vast new opportunities for innovation in open garden social media since each innovator can piggyback on the existing (in the future) public open garden infrastructure rather than need to go through the time and expense of reinventing the wheel unnecessarily for each new social networking aggregator site.

-- Jack Krupansky

My Twitter boycott ends in a few hours

My one-week boycott of Twitter due to data mis-management will be coming to an end later this evening. The good news is that Twitter at least acknowledges the problem of "lost tweets". The bad news is that as of Friday Twitter was still seeing the problem. The okay-but-not-great news is that the tweets are only lost temporarily, but eventually are restored. Whatever. My boycott is nominally over (in a few hours) and I am willing to give Twitter the benefit of the doubt over these... "growing pains" and see what the future brings.

-- Jack Krupansky

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Free Skype from eBay!

I never was able to comprehend the "wisdom" of eBay buying Skype, other than for the founders and investors to cash out of Skype, so now I am excited to hear that there is an effort underway to separate Skype from eBay. That should re-energize Skype to innovate much more rapidly. An article in The New York Times by Brad Stone entitled "European Duo Seeks to Buy Skype Back From EBay" summarizes current efforts to "free" Skype from eBay.

Who knows, Skype might even be a much more organic partner for Twitter than even Google.

-- Jack Krupansky

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Twitter spectrum analyzer

I have not played with it very much, but check out the Twitter Spectrum visual analyzer from Neoformix, which visually shows you term ranking relative to two topics referenced in Twitter tweets. Read the Twitter Spectrum blog post as well.

-- Jack Krupansky

The comment from hell

I just made an innocuous blog post about an upcoming philosophy discussion and it quickly got a comment that I am calling "the comment from hell", which is a very long rant that starts with:

The vast majority of website operators don't have the guts to allow this post, anything like it, any searchable lines, or links. They have been deleted more than 90% of the time. The vast majority of syndicated talk radio hosts are screening their calls and won't allow this topic. The vast majority of callers don't have a clue. We are in big trouble. The truth is so Earth shattering, that no public figure has the guts to acknowledge it. Very few have the guts to allow a statement anything like this in their forum. The truth is being suppressed. We are in much more serious trouble than we have been told by any public figure. Don't be fooled by fluctuating economic indicators or short term market stability. The entire foundation of our economy is crumbling. Get ready people. Get your affairs in order. Get your households in order. Get your communities in order. Be prepared. This is no 'correction'. This is no ordinary recession. This won't be just another Great Depression. This will be much worse. Save this post now before it gets deleted.

And it ends with:

1% CLUB PIGS: My right to remain anonymous is protected by federal law. If this right is violated, I will sue everyone involved and give 99% of the reward directly to my less fortunate fellow citizens. The rest, I will use to print up more copies of this document. DEAL WITH IT.

When pasted into a Word document it is 30 pages long! With a good number of spelling errors

Sure I could easily delete it, but I find it amusing.

I did a Google search for "The vast majority of website operators don't have the guts" and get 132 hits, so I am not the first and only target for this rant.

I am curious what the motive is for posting such a long rant as a comment. After all, most people will simply ignore it.

Anybody have any clues as to what "the comment from hell" is really all about? It certainly did not relate to my post that it appeared on.

-- Jack Krupansky

Forget Twitter, Flutter is the future with nanoblogging!

Are you overwhelmed by Twitter and tweeting? Maybe microblogging is too much for you. If so, give nanoblogging a shot and check out Flutter. "Flaps" are limited to 26 characters (vs. 140-character tweets in Twitter.)

Warning: This is supposed to be a joke!

-- Jack Krupansky

Monday, April 06, 2009

Hey Twitter, where did my avatar go?!

Earlier today I noticed that somebody I was following on Twitter had their avatar picture changed back to the default brown square with "o_O" in it. I wondered why "they" did that. Just now, I noticed that my avatar is now the same brown square with "o_O" in it. WTF?!?!

Hey Twitter, what is going on?

I also noticed that one of the Twitter developers had the same problem.

Now, can somebody tell me what the "proper" term for this is, is it a "TwitFU"?

Feel free to follow me on Twitter: Jack Krupansky on Twitter.

But, please note that my week-long boycott of Twitter is still underway.

-- Jack Krupansky

Twitter acknowledges their lost tweet problem

Just a few hours ago Twitter finally acknowledged that they have a problem with lost tweets. As per the Twitter Status blog:

Working through some errors this morning 4 hours ago

We're contending with an elevated number of error pages this morning. Site latency has also been a problem. We're working through both issues now.

Update: Some users may notice tweets missing in their timelines.  These tweets have NOT been lost. We are working to correct the problem.

Note: You can sign up to receive Twitter status by email.

My boycott of Twitter (no new tweets of any substance) continues, for the rest of the week.

-- Jack Krupansky

Twitter restored my lost tweets!

I just checked and Twittered appears to have restored my seven tweets that disappeared last night. No clue what happened. I suppose I do need to reconsider my boycott of Twitter, but I am not completely inclined to trust Twitter again with my "work" so soon after a screw-up on this nature and nature on their part. We'll see. Besides, I had decided to invest more of my Twitter-related time in doing higher-quality blogging. At least that does raise the question of what exactly constitutes high-value in Twitter.

Oops... almost forgot (again) to point you to my Twitter "channel": Jack Krupansky on Twitter.

Actually, you can always find my Twitter URL on the right side of this blog where it shows as:

View Jack Krupansky on Twitter

Feel free to "follow" me on Twitter... regardless of whether I decide to re-invest significant time "tweeting" after my boycott.

-- Jack Krupansky

Twitter withdrawal

For the record, I am suffering from a little bit of "Twitter withdrawal" as I get started with my week-long boycott of Twitter for their data mis-management which lost a bunch of my recent tweets. Maybe this is actually a good thing since it indicates that there is some value to micro-blogging.

Also, I do have to figure out whether my boycott is strictly limited to refraining from new tweets or from viewing the tweets of others. I definitely have a "hard" boycott of the former, but more of a "soft" boycott for the latter.

And then there is the issue of whether experimentation with alternative front-end clients for Twitter would violate my boycott. Hmmm... who knows... we'll see.

-- Jack Krupansky

Is Twitter down?

No sooner had I tweeted on Twitter that I was "officially" boycotting Twitter for a week (in terms of no new tweets), when I tried to go to to see if I could figure out what was broken and I was suddenly unable to go to the main web site. Just like that. I am able to get to the Twitter blog, but not to the main web site.


Oops... I just checked and the main web site is once more accessible. Still, there seemed to be some sort of outage there for a spell.

-- Jack Krupansky

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Twitter lost some of my tweets... again!

I made five high-quality tweets with Twitter over the past few hours and now suddenly they are all GONE! Disappeared! Poof! Simply vanished. WTF?! This is simply unacceptable.

In truth, I have been concerned for some time about how to preserve my "investment" in usage of Twitter. This includes tweets whose primary purpose is to capture links with relevant summary descriptions. I need a Twitter front-end client that logs my tweets in a non-Twitter form so that my work is not subject to the vagaries of Twitter's data "management."

Maybe all I need is a non-Twitter "blog" that consists simply of tweets and the front-end client would send new tweets to both the blog and to Twitter itself. The client could also read my Twitter feed and simply re-tweet any lost tweets.

Such a client may already exist.

For the record, this is the third or fourth time I have successfully posted tweets and then refreshed and seen them vanish.

This is so frustrating that I am thinking about boycotting Twitter for awhile to protest the data mis-management.

I would note that Blogger was equally inept, if not more so, even three years ago. Maybe we need to be a bit more patient of (and less dependent on) Twitter while it is still in its "youth." Meanwhile, I'll focus on doing any "real" work in my blogs and Twitter will simply an after-thought until I sense that they are getting their act together.

I will tweet this post and than go off the Twitter "grid" for a week -- that's how frustrating this loss (coupled with prior losses) is!

I will endeavor to blog more about my recent Twitter experiences and thoughts for the future of micro-blogging in this blog.

-- Jack Krupansky